Whatever your hospital experience was when giving birth, everyone hopes that they won’t end up back there too soon. But if you do find yourself in hospital with a baby and/or children in tow, help is at hand with Rachel Tompkins’ survival guide…

Take food/milk/snacks
No matter what time of day you go make sure you take milk for the baby and snacks for the kids. Anyone’s who’s spent time sitting in a hospital waiting room opposite an out-of-order vending machine and a canteen that’s closed will know that a poorly child is bad enough.  A poorly, hungry child is nigh on unbearable.

A phone charger is a must
Not just to make phone calls – chances are you won’t have signal anyway. But to keep your phone charged so that you can use it to entertain your toddler with endless Peppa Pig. Don’t approve of kids playing with phones? Even the steeliest of good intentions might wane after the fourth hour in a waiting room with your sanity at stake.

Develop patience that has no bounds
Thought being a mum tested your patience? Being in a hospital waiting room is guaranteed to bring you to the brink of despair. The stifling hot stuffiness is one thing. Having to look after a poorly child and their sibling whilst waiting for the one out-of-hours doctor to work their way through the very long list of people will demand that you dig deep and hold this sh*t together.

Talk to people
Why, you might ask? Because sometimes when you’re sitting there alone, worried out of your mind about your child, talking to someone else not only acts as a distraction, it’s also a morale booster. Plus, most people have either had children or have been one, so they’ll probably be able to offer some words of support to put your mind at rest. Not only that, there’s always someone worse off than us so it may just help to make someone else’s hospital experience slightly more bearable.

Be prepared for tears
Yours that is. Having two children means that I’ve got a few hospital visits under my belt. And every time I have cried due to the sheer terror of my child being ill enough to need hospital attention. Or because of the realisation that there are a lot of sick children out there, and some are really sick. Once those mother’s instincts kick in you’ll be hard pushed to hold back the waterworks.  And likely to give your child an extra long cuddle if you’re lucky enough to take them home and tuck them up in bed that night.

You’ll leave feeling like you’re in the wrong career
The likelihood is that you’ll be so grateful to the hospital staff who helped your child you’ll leave feeling like you either want a career change, or at the very least in complete and utter awe of the NHS staff.  Not only do they save lives, they also do it with smiles and kindness that make you want to hug them (or give them an ASOS voucher of gratitude like I did to my second son’s midwife because I was so grateful for not needing stitches after his birth!).

@RachTompkins @mushmums